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War-criminal or national saviour - Israel pays homage to former soldier and Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon

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War-criminal or national saviour - Israel pays homage to former soldier and Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon

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Israel has been paying homage to the country’s former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who was buried today at his family ranch.

Sharon died over the weekend, eight years after suffering a massive stroke that left him lingering in a coma until his death.

A controversial figure, Sharon is considered a war-criminal in the Arab world, but feted as a saviour by Israel’s military elite.

“I have come to salute you today as much as a statesman as a commander and leader,” said Benny Gantz, the head of Israel Defence Forces.

“I have come to tell you that the army that you held so dear continues to protect the people of Israel and to exist in your image.”

After the remembrances from public figures, Sharon’s son, Gilad, detailed what he considered were his father’s greatest achievements.

“People said it was impossible to overcome the problem of Palestinian terrorism,” said Gilad, “but you decided to build a security barrier that has protected us to this day.”

But for others Ariel Sharon’s legacy is more mixed. Some blame him for instigating unnecessary wars and deliberately targeting civilians.

Israel’s own commission into the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres found Sharon had failed to order “appropriate measures” to prevent the killing by Lebanese militia of up 1,700 Palestinian civilians.